Mar 31st, 2008
I've recently added dozens of schools to the About.com directory of online college profiles. Here's what's included:
"These online college profiles can help you understand your options and choose a virtual program. All online colleges in this directory are regionally accredited, the most widely accepted form of accreditation in the United States. This site does not do paid college profiles; the online colleges in this section have been chosen by the site editor and reviewed impartially."
Online learning is growing fast – there are now hundreds of virtual schools to choose from. Along with your own research, online college reviews can help you narrow down your choices and find a school that fits your needs.
Mar 31st, 2008
eLearn Magazine editor Lisa Neal recently published a list of Ten Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes To Be a More Successful e-Learning Professional. If you're an online teacher or instructional designer, take a look for several worthwhile ways to improve your career. Here's a blurb:
"Find an e-learning conference to go to and send an email to your manager giving 10 reasons why this will help you perform better. If travel is a problem, find a local seminar to go to….Read 10 current e-learning job descriptions and see how many you are qualified for. Write down 10 ideas for your own professional development just in case you ever want to go job hunting."
Since online teaching is a relatively new profession, it's especially important for these instructors to stay on top of professional development and keep aware of advances in their field.
Mar 31st, 2008
Online students are often required to discuss their curriculum via a message board or chat room. Because of the apparent informality of these venues, it can be difficult to present yourself as articulate and professional – especially when you need to disagree with another person's comment. A new article from Paul Grahm explains in detail how to disagree when posting on the internet. Here's a blurb:
"The web is turning writing into a conversation. Twenty years ago, writers wrote and readers read. The web lets readers respond, and increasingly they do-in comment threads, on forums, and in their own blog posts….If we're all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well. What does it mean to disagree well? Most readers can tell the difference between mere name-calling and a carefully reasoned refutation, but I think it would help to put names on the intermediate stages."
If you are expected to participate in online class discussion boards, I'd suggest taking a look at the complete article. By following the examples given, you'll be able to lay out a well-reasoned and articulate argument the next time you disagree with a post.
See Also: How to Participate in an Online Class Chat Room
Mar 31st, 2008
Over the past year, there's been a huge movement towards free online books and other learning materials. One distributor, WOWIO, has already seen some success in offering free books. Here's how they describe themselves:
"WOWIO is a new kind of online bookstore that enables readers to download ebooks for free, using commercial sponsorships to compensate authors and publishers. Readers get free ebooks. Sponsors get a powerful new channel to communicate their message to precisely the people they want to reach. Publishers get a new means of distributing their books, expanding their readership, and monetizing their intellectual property."
On the upside: WOWIO users can instantly download free books, many of which are not in the public domain. However, WOWIO does rely on sponsors to fund these publication, which means you'll have to put up with some level of advertising. On the whole, this looks like a successful business model which in the future could work for academic authors.
Mar 29th, 2008
Starting this fall, New York University's School of Law is admitting students to its newest program – the Executive L.L.M in Tax. Washington Square News reports:
"The new "Executive L.L.M. in Tax" will feature online videos of prerecorded lectures, often taught in conjunction with "live" sections of classes. All students will take the same exams and be graded on the same curves, Faculty Director and law professor NoÃ«l Cunningham said.
The law school will admit 25 online students this fall, he said."
NYU is now one of only a few reputable law schools offering graduate programs online. While there are many quality programs for other subjects, administrators have been hesitant to offer virtual law programs, particularly because face-to-face interaction and Socratic discussions are highly valued in law school academics.
Mar 27th, 2008
This week wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger issued a statement urging philanthropists to support the creation of free online textbooks. Wired Campus reports:
"This week Mr. Sanger posted a public appeal to philanthropists in the form of an online petition, outlining his vision of a world where textbooks cost children nothing. He's asking other Internet users to sign on, and about 20 have done so as of this writing. (The letter focuses on K-12 textbooks, but it seems that a similar logic could be used for college textbooks as well.)
"Sometimes the simplest ways are the best," says Mr. Sanger in the petition. "This opportunity is 'low-hanging fruit.'"
Unfortunately, the statement doesn't lay out any specific details or a plan for making the textbook project possible. But, hopefully, it will encourage conversation and get people to seriously consider altering the textbook industry. If the idea catches on, online students may be able to learn exclusively from no-cost virtual materials sometime in the near future.
Mar 26th, 2008
There's less than a month left to file taxes. Luckily, many filers are seeing big breaks this year. In addition to the nationwide rebate checks, most online students can apply sizable tax deductions. My About.com article, Tax Breaks for Students, explains the deductions now available. Here's a blurb:
"If you are attending an accredited university, your school will send you a 1098-T form at the beginning of each year. This record includes important tax information about your education-related expenses that the school is required to send to both the student and the IRS. Some of the information recorded includes: amounts billed for tuition and other expenses, payments received, student status, and scholarships awarded. Once you receive this information, you will be able to file for tax deductions that could save you up to $2,000, a sizable sum for most students."
Check out the full article for more details and links to IRS information.
Mar 25th, 2008
A recent New York Times article explored several issues with online teaching including the lack of face-to-face interaction and the tendency towards lower pay. Here's a blurb:
"…flexibility can come at a price. Most professors agree that one disadvantage of online learning is a loss of real-time interaction with students…
Some in academia also say that online learning has created a second tier of instructors who work hard but are paid less than traditional professors.
"A great number of teachers who do distance learning tend to be part-timers and a full-time professor gets maybe 10 times more to teach a course," Professor Ruth said."
Merrily Stover, a full-time online professor of anthropology for the university of maryland University College in Adelphi, acknowledges that she could make more if she were a tenured professor at a local university teaching regular courses. But she was able to keep her teaching job by working online from home in Oroville, Calif."
Although online teachers can work in their pajamas, they still deserve pay equivalent to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. By paying online teachers fairly, virtual schools will be able to recruit higher caliber instructors who will improve the overall quality of course content.
Mar 21st, 2008
Did you know that there's an entire magazine dedicated to distance learning? Distance Learning Today, sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Association, is published several times a year. It contains general articles about trends on online learning, advice to virtual students, and advertisements for online programs. Here's its vision:
"Last year, nearly 3.2 million students took at least one online course. By 2011 the majority of U.S. postsecondary students will participate online, at some level, in virtual learning. There is a distance learning revolution taking place in America and Distance Learning Today (DL Today) is here to facilitate its advancement.
With a focus on drawing popular attention to the increasingly relevant online education market, Distance Learning Today will establish a solid and notable presence as a leading online educational resource."
You can view past issues for free on their website. The next Distance Learning Today issue is due to be released on March 21.
Mar 20th, 2008
StudentHacks.org recently published a list of 101 Web Resources for Students. The list was written by a student who has actually used the resources in his own studies. If you're learning online, you may want to take a look.
Included in the list are almanacs, biographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, journal article databases, style manuals, year books, and more. You may also be interested in their list of Google Gadgets for Students.